Oct 25, 2021 6:18 AM
some dath ilani are more Chaotic than others, but
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"The gods outright fight each other almost never. That is what happened a hundred years ago, and my understanding is that it was in fact a ridiculous anomaly of some kind, maybe to do with prophecy breaking and the strategies the gods used for commitments all breaking. I have never heard of it happening before or since. Their churches go to war on Golarion regularly but I doubt that destroys resources that the gods value? It kills people, but their souls are fine, and casters become more powerful in high conflict situations, and people get more religious when there's lots of war, I think. 

Safe reversible contraception sounds very good and you could sell that for lots of money. 

My current best theory for predicting the next thing you're going to say and/or be confused about is that - so Cheliax is richer than most places, and it's got more Law and less of the bad things you were confused about and more - of peoples' preferences being consistent over time, of things that are a good use of resources for the long term happening even if it doesn't benefit anyone until the long term, of not going to war - compared to other places. So extrapolating that wildly, your world sounds like a place that is even richer, and even Lawfuler, to the point the distinction between Good and Evil doesn't even matter much to people since you haven't got afterlives and all the parts of Evil which actually involve hurting other people on purpose have been Lawed out of existence."

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"Oh, it matters.  See, even after you get rich and Law all that stuff out of existence, Very Serious People go on worrying about whether it will come back a hundred years later, if we let ourselves start to drift evolutionarily on the Good-Evil axis.  I hadn't actually been informed as yet, but considering the choices I made in some test-pranks as a kid, I expect I'd have been told a few years later that my place on the Good-Evil axis wouldn't have entitled me to much support for having kids of my own.  Which, fine, fair enough, if I'm the sort of person who goes around constantly assessing how much reciprocation other people owe me, instead of just being nice, I shouldn't be too surprised if Civilization decides it doesn't owe me much.  Because what have I done for them, right, under the rules the way I say they should work?  I can either prove they're wrong about people like me being unnecessary, or get out of the gene pool, fair enough.  My ambition before I ended up here was to fairly make a billion labor-hours, and then marry about two dozen women and have about a hundred and forty-four kids.  The first part to show them how much they need people like me, and the second part to unilaterally give the next generation some more people like me whether the rest of Civilization likes that or not."

"...which I should, probably, just never think about again, because this world is not and never will be a test of my ability to shine inside Civilization.  If I win here, it won't be because I was special, it'll be because I came in with a ton of knowledge that any other dath ilani might have.  And if I lose here, it'll be because there were gods smarter than any human being who ate all the low-hanging-fruit that anybody at all in dath ilan could've found.  But hey, I'm adaptable, I can reorient my entire life, might take me a couple of minutes but I can do it.  I just - felt it might be helpful to say out loud, once, before it all drifts away.  Help if somebody else knew, even for a halfminute, before I let it go."

"Moving on.  If churches are going to war, it means that the gods being smart doesn't prevent humans from being stupid, not sure why, but it obviously doesn't, so maybe I can still help there.  Priority question, how much of my knowledge still holds here, if any.  Does running electricity through water produce two gases, one of them lighter than air, which can be burned to yield water again?"  If molecular chemistry is the same, higher levels of organization will probably also be the same; and knowledge about steelmaking - or that synthetic hormones can signal the female reproductive system to not ovulate - will probably also hold.

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"Just being nice is very stupid, if your planet's selecting for that they're going to have horrible problems the first time they encounter anyone else.  - I'm not an alchemist, I can look it up but probably after the translation spell runs out unless that information is really important information."

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"If 'nice' sounds like a kind of thing that can be 'stupid' we've got some kind of translation difficulty running, that's a type error.  'Nice' is part of the utility function.  If you don't already know that water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen, it probably isn't... I guess you could just not know what anything is made of.  Do you know what water is made of that's not two one-proton atoms and one eight-proton atom?"

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"I don't know what a proton is. Water freezes at a little above the ambient air temperature outdoors here at the Worldwound in the summer and floats when it's ice, and boils at a temperature you can get over a normal nonmagical fire and then is steam, and holds heat well compared to metal or plant matter or something. When it freezes in the sky it forms snowflakes."

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"Sounds correct.  Do snowflakes have six-sided structure under a microscope?  Where I come from, that happens because molecules with two hydrogen and one oxygen have a least-energy crystal configuration that's hexagonal.  If all of that is still true and for the same reasons, then I still know how to make advanced steel and build electrical generators.  And the methodology I know to regenerate more of that knowledge will apply unchanged.  Male and female reversible contraception... was tech in a relatively advanced state where I can't reproduce it directly.  I can reproduce the methodology that generates it."

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"Snowflakes have six sides. What's steel used for, what're electrical generators used for -"

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"You don't have steel.  Right then, if steel is a possible thing here and you don't have it, that's step one in climbing the tech tree.  It's a metal that's harder than other metals, while still possible to work with at all; variations on it don't rust, keep edges better, and so on.  What's your current advanced metallurgy like?  Bronze, iron..."

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"Magic weapons. They don't rust and keep an edge perfectly and they last forever. We have bronze and iron. I've seen work done in steel but I've also seen work done in adamantine, mithril, skymetal, there's lots of metals that exist but aren't mass-producible and I don't know what they'd be used for if they were."

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"Huh.  Yeah, some of those terms aren't translating.  I wonder if I actually know anything portable about steel, or there's just some nearly analogous metal here, or if steel still exists but there's processes that don't exist in dath ilan for building other metals above or beyond it.  Let's try a basic tech on a higher level of organization.  How expensive is it to produce a thousand copies of one book and how would you do that?"  

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"I think it costs about what a laborer would earn in three years to get a thousand copies, and you'd go to a printing shop where they'd line up moveable metal - tile things? - with letters on them to make the pages, and then ink them and stamp the parchment. I think the biggest contributing expense is the paper and the binding. Cheliax releases national histories every few years but I don't think other places can afford to do that."

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"You got printing presses, okay.  I may or may not know anything useful about cheaper paper, if a book's worth of paper costs a day's wages.  Let's try refrigeration, how expensive is ice in hotter climates and what would you do to get it?"

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"...I think you mostly cannot buy ice in Cheliax. I guess you could have someone ship it from the far north but I don't know this to have ever been done commercially, and my father's a merchant, I was broadly familiar with the things people were trying commercially in shipping. Probably you'd pay a spellcaster to prepare and cast Snowball for you, which would cost ten laborer-days and be about a hands-ful."

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Keltham rapidly rubs his hands together.  It produces heat.

If heat is still disorganized kinetic energy, expanding and compressing gases should make them colder and hotter.

"Promising.  I very likely know how to turn mechanical motion into cold without using magic, maybe using a river waterwheel as the kinetic source.  Not sure how well it'll scale at your tech level, with any luck it's two orders of magnitude past Snowball, enough to enable food-preservation at scale, if you don't already have that... I don't actually have a good sense for how that tech scales costwise.  Worth having a backup plan.  Do your seagoing ships travel against the wind?"

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"They know techniques for adjusting the sails so you can still make some ground. They haven't got something better than wind to power them except I met a Tian man once who claimed in his country tamed sea creatures towed them."

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"Don't know if my world's standard primitive sailing technique is better or worse.  We can check later.  I have notions of how to build nonmagical powered engines for ships too, but they're higher up the tech tree and take fuel and steel and engineering."

"The conventional guess among my people is that steel, better steel, cheaper steel, fall among the first things you should try to sell - or not-sell - to a civilization climbing the tech tree.  We don't actually know what the past was like in that regard, but the conventional guess is that materials technology would end up being the rate-limit on most other inventions.  Like, the standard guess is that things to do with better steel end up being obvious, when a lot of people are all trying to figure it out; so it's the quality and quantity of steel they have that ends up limiting their technology, because exploring metallurgy is hard in a way that thinking up the printing press is not.  I wish I knew more about how that conventional wisdom was generated, but since I don't know, it's not implausible I should treat that as my point of departure.  If the metals better than your current steel are still rare and expensive, more and better steel should still be worth something."

"Supposing that's true and it makes my knowledge valuable, where do I go from there?  Including getting past basic accommodations quickly?  As you say, this seems like a poor society and I come from a rich one, so I'd like to spend as little time as possible being poor around here.  Unless Asmodeus sees me as having done him a favor with the dath ilan soul tipoff, but I'm not clear on whether that constitutes a favor.  And in fact you've said some ominous things about gods which would lead me to have second thoughts about doing them favors, if they're not the sort to repay favors to non-gods who can't logically verify their expected reciprocation.  Which would seem dumb to me because of the exact chain of logic I just went through, I mean, non-gods can generalize over the visible past behavior of gods in cases like that."

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"It is better to have done Asmodeus a favor than not have done Asmodeus a favor, in terms of Asmodeus's inclinations towards you, I think probably the church'll give you money and a nice place to stay once I explain all of this. You should not count on that with nonLawful gods though they're still mostly, excluding Nethys, sane, and aware mortals can track our incentives ...probably the church'll want you back in Cheliax, not here at the Worldwound, where sometimes there are demons. I think you'll like it better, the weather's nicer and there are more - nice things of the sort I presume you're accustomed to, are there specifics I should mention?" The running list in her head already is 'admiration, women, money beyond ability to spend it', which seems like quite enough, really, but maybe also he likes a specific fruit.

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"Probably, but at this point I have no idea what they are.  If I want to cool my house in summer in Cheliax, it sounds like I either need to get rich enough to hire wizards, or, like, invent air conditioning first.  So it sounds like all of dath ilan registers as Lawful and Evil on your whacked-out scales, but - are there exactly nine gods total, or is there more than one Lawful Evil god I might want to work for?  For that matter, I might want to check out exactly what the Lawful Neutral and Neutral Evil gods are like, maybe the Neutral Evil one pays ten times as much to make up for being unreliable."

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The church is super not going to let him leave. "Uh, Lawful Neutral's Abadar, you'd probably get along but He doesn't have a presence in Cheliax and Cheliax is the richest country and the place it makes sense to start things. The other Lawful Evil gods are - arguably not proper divinities in their own right and don't have independent churches, they work for Asmodeus, I think He cleared out independent Lawful Evil competition before humans had writing. The Neutral Evil gods are, uh, Urgathoa, goddess of disease and the undead, I've never heard anything about Her paying well, and Norgorber, who's an ascended human so that's promising in terms of being more aligned with humans but also He's the god of crime and assassins and I am not sure how interested He'd be in this project, which sounds like it optimistically involves no crimes and mostly only defensive dealings with assassins."

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"I would have intuitively hoped, going on the description you gave me, that there is somewhere a Neutral Evil god of people pursuing their own sunlit interests without fretting about whether they are being too lawful or too chaotic.  Also, ascended human whoa possible new life goal how does one do that and does it trash your existing personality?"

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- giggle. "There's a rock called the Starstone in Absalom, it's behind magical protections Aroden put in place and the purpose and nature of which He hid with magic and never clarified, you can touch it and ascend to godhood, hundreds of people try every year, the last success was about a thousand years ago, personality seems.....in some ways intact? As much as it could be, I guess, when you're getting that much smarter and getting a bunch of new sensory modalities and operating in a completely different context. But people stay the same alignment and some of their holy books detail new god-perspectives on the events of their life, so they at least remember it and can have opinions about it.

There might be somewhere a Neutral Evil god pursuing its own interests without worrying about Law or Chaos but if so their interests don't include the people of Golarion knowing about them."

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"That's unfortunate because I can't deal with them, but at the same time, it's hilarious.  I mean, if I ascended, I would not actually fuck off and leave everyone else to go rot with no stainless steel, but the counterfactual me that does is within eyesight among the counterfactual universes.  I wonder if knowing god-math has anything to do with being able to touch the Starstone?  Seems worth a quick shot if trying is cheap."

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"I mean the overwhelming majority of failures die. They're usually high enough level adventurers they just arrange a resurrection in advance if they want it, but I don't know that the church'll front you that."

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"Resurrection is advanced clerics, right.  Can you give me a quick description of how one becomes a basic cleric or basic wizard?  I am wondering if knowing god-math or knowing regular math makes me sufficiently talented to do those without despecializing from my other work, and it seems like even small services there are worth tons."

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"Wizards learn how to manipulate and stabilize spells, and then spend an hour every day - you can learn how to do it faster, I'm working on it, but average is an hour - preparing and stabilizing their spells, at which point they can cast them on very short notice with a couple seconds of work. Cheliax tracks people to be wizards at 14 and generally if you haven't washed out you can reliably cast and retrieve cantrips at 16. Possibly an adult with all the math background and none of the spell background can pick it up in days or weeks. More complicated spells are the same thing but you need to follow more complicated math and you need more working memory - which necklaces are great for - the specific math is topology, did that translate -"

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